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Review: Prime Minister’s Secret Diplomacy

Manga-ka: Youka Nitta
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: January 2008

Synopsis: “Yoshinaga’s genius and his gift for political maneuvering have helped him ascend to the higher spheres of the Ministry of Foreign affairs at an early age. As for Shiraishi, the prestige of his family as well as his dedication to his job has also led him to an early career in diplomacy. Yoshinaga is Shiraishi’s future brother-in-law as he is soon to be married to his sister. When the two meet in Thailand, a stunning tale of love unfolds.”

The Prime Minister’s Secret Diplomacy follows Yoshinaga, Thailand’s Japanese minister and Shiraishi, a young up and coming politician, as they weave together a tangled web of politics, lust and something that resembles love.

From the very beginning pressed collars and stiff speech lets readers know what kind of story they’ve picked up. The pages are littered with the political intrigues and daily going-ons of the men’s profession. On the story’s side, it does manage to keep from getting bogged down by such affairs. Instead, however, it’s weighed down most heavily by the politics growing between Yoshinaga and Shiraishi, because it feels much more like that than a relationship. However the interactions are intense and motivations not always entirely clear which keeps a tight grip on readers from start to finish.

Secret Diplomacy feels more mature than your average manga. It’s probably not something that the casual yaoi reader can pick up and enjoy, with the exception of Youka Nitta’s attractive artwork and steamy sex scenes. After Shiraishi discovers some of Yoshinaga’s political ‘methods’, what begins as disbelief and scrutiny quickly turns into lust and admiration. What follows is a unique coming together of these two men where it’s not always clear who the one being pursued truly is. Trapped unknowingly in the middle is Shiraishi’s sister who just so happens to be Yoshinaga’s fiancée. Though a little empathy can be given to the characters for the pressure of hiding homosexual relations in political settings, it’s hard to feel anything for them when Shiraishi’s sister seems so easily tossed to the side by them both.

Youka Nitta’s art won’t let down any of her fans. The characters will appear familiar to her followers, popped out of the same mould as most of her other yaoi characters who share often undiscernibly similar facial features. At least the characters are easily distinguished from each other in this story so it doesn’t cause any problems with a cast so small. The artwork is incredibly polished with sharp, solid line art and well-placed screen tones that give this manga a very professional look to it. Yoshinaga and Shiraishi are both attractive and masculine with powerful expressions and sex scenes that shouldn’t let anyone down. The artwork is definitely the most powerful part of this story and compliments the story perfectly.

801 Media has done a fantastic job with the release of this manga and it’s probably one of the highest quality looking manga releases to date. The dust jacket is bright and vibrant and the inner flaps continue on full page, full colour spreads that grace the first and last pages of the book. The interior pages are printed on thick, high quality paper with solid binding that still allows for easy page turning, no spine breaking required. The translation is good and font placed wonderfully where it needs to be in the book, be it over artwork or inside text bubbles. At times the writing feels a little forced, especially the first chapter, but it suits the fact that these are businessmen conversing with each other and it does seem like it smoothes itself out as the story goes on.

The Prime Minister’s Secret Diplomacy brings together strong artwork and powerful character interactions, making it an interesting read. However it does feel a little too heavy at times and isn’t something that many readers will find themselves going back to after finishing it the first time. It’s also a little difficult to care too deeply about the characters when their relationship isn’t exactly harmless but their fiery interactions and passionate encounters do make them hard to dismiss. For eye-catching artwork and intense drama that doesn’t rely on picture-perfect results to satisfy readers, Secret Diplomacy is definitely worth a look.

Written Feburary 2, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo under name Kurishojo for MangaJouhou
Book provided for review purposes by Digital Manga Publishing

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

Kuriousity does not condone or support the illegal distribution of manga online.
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